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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 27th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (25-19-3) at Colorado Avalanche (16-24-7), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Wild will try to quickly hit the reset button after a terrible performance in a huge game, as they play for a postseason berth in Saturday's road game against the Colorado Avalanche.
The Wild had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win in Friday's home game against lowly Edmonton, but instead were trounced by the Oilers, 6-1. The performance caused the crowd at Xcel Energy Center to rain boos down on the home team on more than one occasion.
"I don't think anyone knows what happened," said Minnesota's Kyle Brodziak. "We're fighting for our lives now."
The good news for Minnesota is that it can still get in with a win, but the bad news is Saturday's game in Denver is the Wild's last chance to do it.
The Wild are tied at 53 points with Columbus for the last playoff spot in the West and the teams are just one in back of Detroit. All three teams fighting for the last two spots in the conference are playing their regular-season finales on Saturday.
The Red Wings only need a point in Saturday's game at Dallas to clinch a playoff spot, while the Blue Jackets need a win and some help from either Detroit or Minnesota.
Minnesota was buried early in Friday's game, as Corey Potter scored twice in a three-goal first period to send goaltender Niklas Backstrom to the bench. Backstrom was pulled after giving up three goals on five shots in the first 18:38 of regulation, including one to Taylor Hall. Josh Harding fared little better in relief, allowing three more scores on 12 shots for the remainder of the contest.
"It was one of the weirdest games I've ever played in and obviously one of the most disappointing games I've ever been in," said Wild forward Matt Cullen. "We got spanked in a game we absolutely needed to win.
Mikko Koivu provided the lone offense for the Wild, who are trying to gain their first postseason berth since 2008.
Minnesota hopes its success against the Avalanche this season will carry over to tonight's all-important battle. The Wild are 3-0-1 against the Avalanche this season and have taken nine of 13 overall in this series. Minnesota also has earned victories in five of six and eight of its last 10 games in Denver.
The Wild are 11-11-1 as the road team this season.
Colorado is out of the playoffs for a third straight spring, but the Avs were able to record a 5-4 win at Phoenix on Friday. Matt Duchene capped a four- point night with the game-winning goal in the shootout to give the Avalanche the victory at Jobing.com Arena.
Duchene assisted on three other scores as the Avalanche spoiled the Coyotes' home finale with only their fourth road victory of the season. P.A. Parenteau added a goal and an assist to the win, which he sealed by beating Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith in the second round of the shootout.
"It didn't look pretty early, but we stuck with it," Parenteau said. "We knew we were going to get our chances tonight. It was a good team effort overall. It was fun to get a win on the road here."
After coming up with six saves in overtime, Semyon Varlamov turned back both Coyote skaters he faced in the deciding phase in relief of Jean-Sebastian Giguere, who stopped 27-of-31 shots before departing with an undisclosed injury late in the third period.
Colorado is 12-8-3 as the host this year compared to its dreadful 4-16-4 record on the road.
04/27 10:58:05 ET